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ZURICH: March 01, 2018. According to Alain Guerlin, director  and head of Products, Services & Technology Management at Swiss International Air Lines, air cargo is entering a new era. Digitalization and new technologies are creating the foundation for new business ideas and models. However with all the players in the supply chain now demanding high quality services, he wonders whether there's more to it than just technology:

Digital transformation is happening everywhere: travel and tourism, retail, education, automotive, you name it. Where do we stand in the air cargo industry? Even though air cargo players are quite slow on the digital uptake, technologies such as electronic messages, smart data sharing platforms, blockchain, IoT, augmented reality, artificial intelligence are already a fact today and are changing the way we are doing business.

Startup companies and micro trends are also shaping our future (and they are doing it much faster than us!). Online marketplaces already exist where shippers and logistics providers can meet, based on preferences, requirements, budget...

But is it really all about technology? Technology alone is not enough. It is a matter of connecting technology with processes, data and, ultimately, people.

It takes intelligent process co-ordination to ensure the right info is reaching the right person at the right time. And it takes smart data to ensure smart decision-making.

At Swiss WorldCargo we have started our digital transformation with a focus on projects that can really enhance the customer experience and enable us to go for smart decision-making. For instance, we are looking at use cases driven by the Internet of things (IoT): there is potential to connect virtually anything (e.g. high-end sophisticated pharma containers) to the internet and accelerate data-driven logistics.

We are also looking at big data analytics and machine learning systems, which will allow to digitalise logistics processes and, at the same time, will bring about new ways of gaining in process efficiency, new opportunities to interact with our customers and ultimately also drive new business models.

Two growing business segments have especially been on our radar that are very much driven by this absolute necessity of modernization and meeting specific customer needs: Pharmaceutical & Healthcare and eCommerce. But we have also been looking at the whole subject of customer experience: we want to create an advanced level of customer service that extends beyond basic service activities, to include a more personalized and customized approach that creates value in a customer-centric business setup.

All in all, at Swiss WorldCargo we definitely support the call for modernization and digitalization, because we believe it will help us increase productivity and gain in efficiency, stay connected with our customers and meet their needs, offer the required visibility and transparency and, most important of all, enhance the customer experience.

Listening to our customers, as well as anticipating their needs, is the most crucial thing, because this is the only way we can remain relevant as a premium service provider.

Alain Guerin is the former head of Cargo Marketing for Swiss WorldCargo.

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